COVID-19 in Historical Perspective

Branches of the ANZSHM and the Society's members have been active in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, particularly in placing it in historical context. Click on the links below to access a selection of papers, videos and programs.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Influenza and Covid 19

A presentation to the NSW Branch of the ANZSHM on June 10th 2020 by Dr Kirsty Short, Senior Lecturer, School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland.

Lest We Forget

Dr Anthea Hyslop and Dr Peter Hobbins were interviewed and prominently featured in ABC TV's Australian Story episode on the Spanish Flu, which aired on 1 June 2020. The program can be watched via the link in the title. 

Historical Parallels between Australia's COVID-19 Response and Previous Health Crises

Assoc. Prof. Paul Sendziuk speaks on ABC Radio National’s ‘Big Ideas’ program, discussing historical parallels between Australia’s COVID-19 response (and federal and state responsibilities) and HIV/AIDS. The program was co-sponsored by the National Archives of Australia. 

 

How Border Closures Failed in 1919

100 years ago, when Australia was gripped by Spanish Flu, the nation failed to contain the pandemic, and the weak spot was the border between Victoria and New South Wales. Crossing the border, the disease spread throughout the country, infecting hundreds of thousands and killing at least 15,000 people. The parallels to 2020 are striking. So will Australia’s containment measures succeed where they failed a century ago?' Dr Peter Hobbins spoke with the ABC Signal Team on 8 July 2020.

‘Kissing can be dangerous’: How Old Advice for TB Seems Strangely Familiar Today

By Dr Criena Fitzgerald, The Conversation, 26 June 2020

Sydney University Historians Respond to the Pandemic

This article links to contributions by ANZSHM members, including Prof. Warwick Anderson. Warwick has written on how to have philosophy in a pandemic, why the iconic Australian beach was re-imagined as a special space of contamination, and what the controversies over mask wearing mean for ‘face work’ in a time of COVID-19, particularly in the United States. Along with Jim Kim, former president of the World Bank, he also spoke with Christopher Lydon on U.S. National Public Radio’s Open Source about national responses to COVID-19.

Dr Peter Hobbins on the Historical Parallels to COVID-19

Dr Peter Hobbins has been particularly sought after by the news media to provide commentary about the COVID-19 pandemic and comparisons to previous public health crises. Below are a selection of articles and programs in which his work has appeared. They can be accessed by clicking on the individual links below.

  1. ‘Parallels drawn between 1919 Spanish Flu and coronavirus’, interview with Annelise Nielsen, Sky News, 13 May 2020, https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6156222896001

  2. ‘We forgot the Spanish flu. Will we remember the coronoavirus?’, interview with Kishor Napier-Raman, Crikey, 5 June 2020, https://www.crikey.com.au/2020/06/05/we-forgot-the-spanish-flu-will-we-remember-the-coronavirus/

  3. ‘Been there before’, quoted by Jamie Warnock, Fremantle Herald Interactive, 29 May 2020, https://heraldonlinejournal.com/2020/05/29/been-there-before/

  4. ‘History in the making: how libraries are capturing the pandemic for posterity’, interview with Hollie Pich, Guardian Australia, 13 May 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2020/may/13/history-in-the-making-how-libraries-are-capturing-the-pandemic-for-posterity

  5. ‘NSW in lockdown: we’ve seen it all before’, interview with Soofia Tariq, Central News, 8 May 2020, https://centralnews.com.au/2020/05/08/sydney-in-lockdown-weve-seen-it-all-before/

  6. ‘Politicians, take note this Anzac Day: coronavirus is a pandemic. It is not a war’, comments quoted by Paul Daley, Guardian Australia, 25 April 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/25/politicians-take-note-this-anzac-day-coronavirus-is-a-pandemic-it-is-not-a-war

  7. ‘Fact check: is it illegal under the constitution for a state to close its borders to other Australians?’, interview with Lisa Waller, RMIT ABC Fact Check, 23 April 2020, https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2020/april/fact-check-state-border-closures

  8. ‘Does this town hold the clue to surviving a pandemic?’, interview with Marc Stapelberg, Northern Star, 17 April 2020, https://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-northern-star/20200417/282312502202437.

  9. ‘Coronavirus border closures reminiscent of Spanish flu shutdown in 1919’, interview with Erin Somerville, ABC Goulburn Murray, 25 March 2020, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-24/coronavirus-border-closures-reminiscent-of-spanish-flushutdown/12085478

  10. ‘“If it kills us, we do something about it”: Sydney’s grim history of pandemics’, interview with Andrew Taylor, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 March 2929, https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/if-it-kills-us-we-do-something-about-it-sydney-s-grim-history-of-pandemics-20200319-p54bqk.html

  11. ‘Preparing to face life in lockdown’, interview with Jacqueline May, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 March 2020, https://www.smh.com.au/national/preparing-to-face-life-in-lockdown-20200319-p54bzu.html

  12. ‘Australia is looking to lessons from the Spanish flu’, interview with Andrew Clark, Australian Financial Review, 14 March 2020, https://www.afr.com/markets/equity-markets/australia-is-looking-to-lessons-from-the-spanish-flu-20200312-p549ed

  13. ‘Why masks are common in Hong Kong, but not Australia during COVID-19’, interview with Matilda Marozzi, ABC Live Blog, 18 July 2020, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-19/why-some-countries-are-more-willing-to-wear-masks/12420838

  14. ‘Protecting WA in 1919 and 2020’, interview with Geoff Hutchison, Drive, ABC Perth, 15 July 2020: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/perth/programs/drive/spanish-flu-comparison/12459680

  15. ‘How border closures failed in 1919’, interview with Stephen Smiley, The Signal, ABC, 8 July 2020, https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/the-signal/how-border-closures-failed-in-1919/12432110

  16. ‘Saving pandemic ephemera for history’, interview with Josh Szeps, ABC Sydney, 14 May 2020, https://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/programs/afternoons/afternoons/12226546

  17. ‘Collecting the COVID-19 archive’, interview with Gabi Payne, City Journal News, 14 May 2020, https://www.spreaker.com/user/9800368/city-journal-news-update-may-14-2020

  18. ‘Two interviews on transport lessons from Coronavirus’, interview with David Brown, Overdrive Podcast, 28 March 2020, https://www.anyauto.com.au/overdrive-podcast-radio-program-week-13-2020/

  19. ‘Racism and the history of quarantine in Australia’, interview with Reema Rattan, Communication Mixdown, 3CR, 10 February 2020, https://www.3cr.org.au/communicationmixdown/episode-202002101800/racism-and-history-quarantine-australia

  20. ‘Spread of the coronavirus’, interview with Philip Clark, Nightlife, ABC, 5 February 2020: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nightlife/coronavirus/11934518

  21. ‘Quarantine harks back to colonial times’, interview with Sinead Mangan, Australia Wide, ABC, 31 January 2020: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/australia-wide/quarantine/11919348

  22. ‘The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918’, interview with Michael McLaren, Wake Up Australia, 2GB, 30 January 2020: https://www.2gb.com/podcast/the-spanish-flu-pandemic-of-1918/

  23. ‘Six months later, Australia tames the virus’, interview with Andrew Clark, Australian Financial Review, 26 September 2020, https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/six-months-later-australia-tames-the-virus-20200925-p55z7r

  24. ‘A short history of vaccination campaigns in Australia and what we might expect with COVID-19’, quoted in NZ City, 22 September 2020, https://home.nzcity.co.nz/news/article.aspx?id=319169

  25. ‘How the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic ended’, interview with Michael McLaren, Wake Up Australia, 2GB, 10 September 2020: https://www.2gb.com/podcast/how-the-1918-spanish-flu-pandemic-ended/

  26. ‘Aftershocks’, interview with Sabrina Organo, The Gatherings Order, State Library of New South Wales, 4 September 2020, https://audio.sl.nsw.gov.au/podcast/gatherings-order/episode-5-aftershocks

  27. ‘The second wave’, interview with Sabrina Organo, The Gatherings Order, State Library of New South Wales, 4 September 2020, https://audio.sl.nsw.gov.au/podcast/gatherings-order/episode-4-second-wave

  28. ‘Holding the line’, interview with Sabrina Organo, The Gatherings Order, State Library of New South Wales, 4 September 2020, https://audio.sl.nsw.gov.au/podcast/gatherings-order/episode-3-holding-line

  29. ‘Preparing for the worst’, interview with Sabrina Organo, The Gatherings Order, State Library of New South Wales, 4 September 2020, https://audio.sl.nsw.gov.au/podcast/gatherings-order/episode-2-preparing-worst

  30. ‘War, peace and a pandemic’, interview with Sabrina Organo, The Gatherings Order, State Library of New South Wales, 4 September 2020, https://audio.sl.nsw.gov.au/podcast/gatherings-order/episode-1-war-peace-and-pandemic

  31. ‘How do pandemics usually end? And how will this one finish?’, interview with Tegan Taylor, ABC Health, 8 September 2020, https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2020-09-08/covid-coronavirus-how-do-pandemics-end-and-how-will-this-one-end/12596954

  32. ‘A century of anti-maskers: How Australians refused to wear face coverings when the Spanish Flu hit in 1919 because it gave them a “piglike snout” – but it didn't end well for them’, interview with Louise Starkey, Daily Mail Australia, 23 August 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8622407/COVID-19-Spanish-Flu-similarities-mask-pushback-started-second-wave-1919.html

  33. ‘Victoria used to run the country. Not any more’, interview with Andrew Clark, Australian Financial Review, 7 August 2020, https://www.afr.com/policy/health-and-education/victoria-used-to-run-the-country-not-any-more-20200806-p55jda

  34. ‘Sydney during the Spanish flu: Tour goes inside the city's disease-ridden past’, interview with Anthony Dennis, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 August 2020, https://www.traveller.com.au/sydney-during-the-spanish-flu-tour-goes-inside-the-citys-diseaseridden-past-h1ptay

  35. ‘Why masks are common in Hong Kong, but not Australia during COVID-19’, interview with Matilda Marozzi, ABC Live Blog, 18 July 2020, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-19/why-some-countries-are-more-willing-to-wear-masks/12420838

  36. ‘Quarantine camps, face masks and makeshift hospitals’, quoted by Louise Starkey, Daily Mail Australia, 7 July 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8496529/Spanish-Flu-vs-COVID-19-Photographs-different-life-NSW-closed-border.html

Recent scholarly publications by ANZSHM members about COVID-19:

Warwick Anderson, 'The model crisis, or how to have critical promiscuity on the time of Covid-19', Social Studies of Science, vol.51, no.2, 2021: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0306312721996053.

Pamela Maddock and Warwick Anderson, 'Standing Up Straighter Against Covid-19?', Arena Quarterly, no.4, 2020; pp. 5-8. Available at: https://arena.org.au/standing-up-straighter-against-covid-19/.

Warwick Anderson, 'The Philippine Covidscape: Colonial Public Health Redux?', Philippine Studies, vol.68, nos 3-4, 2020, pp.325-37.

Warwick Anderson 'Think Like a Virus', Public Books (7 Jan 2021): https://www.publicbooks.org/think-like-a-virus/. Reprinted in Thomas J. Sugrue and Caitlin Zaloom (eds), The 2020 Reader, New York: Columbia University Press, 2021.

Warwick Anderson, 'The Way We Live Now?', Isis, vol.111, no.4, 2020, pp.834-37.